Here’s why you never, ever take an NFL contract’s numbers at face value: Teddy Bridgewater, the onetime savior of the Minnesota Vikings, has signed a one-year deal with the New York Jets with a mere $500,000 guaranteed.
Bridgewater’s contract has a total value in excess of $14 million, with $5 million coming in base salary and $9 million coming via incentives. But only his signing bonus, $500,000, is guaranteed, meaning he could get cut before Week 1 and the Jets would have spent what basically amounts to a rounding error on a QB tryout.
The strategy here appears obvious, if cold-blooded. The Jets announced Bridgewater’s signing the day after their monstrous trade to move up three spots to No. 3 in the draft, with the expectation being that they will use that slot to grab a quarterback. New York can now use Bridgewater and fellow stopgap QB Josh McCown as caretakers while they determine when to bring along their rookie, whoever that might be.
It’s a precipitous fall for Bridgewater, who was once projected as one of the NFL’s franchise QBs of the future. Granted, $500,000 is plenty of money in the real world, but in the NFL, it’s spare change, particularly for a marquee position like quarterback. Bridgewater is now living the ultimate meritocratic dream; nearly everything he earns for the next year will depend entirely on what he does next.
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